The latest greenkeeping news this month comes in 3 parts, which are:
- Changes to Morgan’s Mound approach
- Continued success on the greens
- Toon’s Tier green extension
The pictures here show the changes to the approach on the hole ‘Morgan’s Mound’. The changes will allow more options when it comes to playing shots into the green. The aerial approach was previously the only real option, but now low running shots are also possible. Using the contours which are now much softer and more natural to the eye, the ball can be run up onto the putting surface.
The greens have seen significant improvements in recent years and this is now more evident than ever.
Although we have applied a fungicide in October to protect the greens against fusarium patch disease, it has been hugely encouraging to see that this disease is no longer a real issue.
In previous years Fusarium has been a concern and when I arrived almost 4 years ago it had been devastating. Going forwards the use of fungicide is no longer a necessity and this in itself demonstrates the success we have had.
So how have we achieved this?
- By changing the grass species on the greens from predominantly Annual Meadow Grass, to Bent and Fescue grass species.
It sounds really simple, but how have the grasses changed?
- The key is creating an environment that favours the grasses that we want, over the ones we don’t want.
- Bent and Fescue species have an advantage over Annual Meadow Grass when growing in soil that drains well and lacks nutrients.
So how has it been possible to change the environment?
- Step one was to reduce the high level of thatch, as when too high, it holds water like a sponge. Mechanical removal through aeration combined with natural, biological breakdown have been key.
- Regular aeration has also aided drainage and improved soil structure.
- Irrigation has been limited to using hosepipes where practical and only watering areas that require water to survive. Automatic programs are rarely used.
- Applying fertiliser has been done so sparingly, with an average of 60 kg of nitrogen applied to all 30 greens per year.
The greens are undoubtedly much improved, but they are often not as fast as other courses?
- This may be true at certain times of year and is simply down to height of cut. Cutting shorter would achieve faster greens in the short term but comes at a cost.
- Bent and in particular Fescue don’t tolerate being cut too short, whereas Annual Meadow Grass is able to tolerate cutting heights even as low as 2 mm.
Does that mean Hunley’s greens will always be slower than other courses?
- No, it has only been in the short term during the transition from Annual Meadow Grass to Bent and Fescue grasses.
- Now the greens are predominantly Bent and Fescue grasses, they naturally roll better due to the grasses finer nature.
- In the last year, testing has shown significant improvements in ball roll qualities. We are also now in a position to dictate the speed on the greens to suit conditions, which is a wonderful position to be in.
Overall then, there are huge benefits to this?
- Absolutely, the greens are now consistent and in play for 12 months of the year.
- They are firm and the ball rolls true.
- We can control their speed to suit conditions.
- Problems with disease are minimal.
- They require little in the way of water and fertiliser.
- Disruptive and aggressive treatments are unnecessary.
So it’s easy from now on then?
- There will always be challenges and there will always be room for improvement, but offering excellent playing surfaces year round has certainly become easier to achieve.
Credit to all at Hunley from the support of management to the understanding of our membership, and everyone has played a part in our success. That’s what makes Hunley such a special place to be and we are all now reaping the rewards!
The following video shows the process of extending the green on ‘Toon’s Tier’. The changes have taken away the extreme difficulty of the hole and has been done by enlarging both tiers of the MacKenzie style green. It will still present a challenge, but it will now be a challenge to relish rather than dread!